Monday, 30 November 2020

The Art of Gold, 3000 Years of Chinese Treasures

An exhibition at L’École features masterpieces from the Mengdiexuan collection. It shines a light on 3,000 years of Chinese gold craftsmanship.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020


In the desert north of AlUla in Saudi Arabia, the archeological site of Hegra (Mada'in Saleh) has been left nearly undisturbed for almost 2,000 years. Once a thriving international trade hub, the rock-cut constructions at Hegra look similar to its famous sister site of Petra, a few hundred miles to the north in Jordan. Hegra was the second city of the mysterious Nabataean kingdom.

Nabataeans were desert-dwelling nomads turned merchants, controlling the incense and spice trade routes through Arabia and Jordan to the Mediterranean, Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia. Caravans laden with fragrant peppercorn, ginger root, sugar and cotton passed through Hegra, a provincial city on the kingdom’s southern frontier. The Nabataeans prospered from the 4th century B.C. until the 1st century A.D., when the expanding Roman Empire rose to prominance.
Like Petra, Hegra is a metropolis turned necropolis: most of the remaining structures that can be seen today are tombs, with much of the architectural remains of the city still buried.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Sobek, the crocodile god

Egyptians had a complex relationship with the Nile’s crocodiles. The crocodile god Sobek first appeared in the Old Kingdom as the son of Neith with the epithet “The Rager”. According to some myths his father was Set, the god of thunder and chaos, but he also closely association with Horus.

Egyptions bred, raised, and mummified millions of baby crocs. Once hatched, the baby crocodiles would reside in shallow basins before being “sacrificed, mummified and then sold to worshipers as votive dedications.”

Sobek and his affiliated reptilian deities had their headquarters in the Faiyum, an oasis in Upper Egypt. It was thought that Sobek could protect the Pharaoh from dark magic.
During the Twelfth and Thirteenth Dynasties, the cult of Sobek was given particular prominence and a number of rulers incorporated him in their coronation names, including the first fully attested female pharaoh – Sobekneferu.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Master and slave discovered in Pompeii

The remains of two men have been unearthed in an extraordinary discovery in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. The bodies of what are thought to be a wealthy man and his slave, believed to have died as they were fleeing the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79. The remains were discovered in the same location where a stable containing the remains of three harnessed horses were unearthed in 2017. Experts said the younger man was probably aged between 18 and 25. The elder man was aged between 30 and 40, and had a stronger bone structure.

The two men are believed to have escaped the initial phase of the eruption when the city was blanketed in volcanic ash and pumice, only to then be killed by a blast that happened the following day.

Saka Gold

In 2019 archaeologists found more than 500 artefacts made of gold, bronze and iron, believed to be from the 8th century BC, during excavations in the Yeleke Sazy burial sites in the Tarbagatai district in East Kazakhstan. The hoard was found at a depth of 1.5 metres in the niche of the ruined chamber of the largest kurgan, known as the Patsha mound. It was fused into a single lump in the remains of a leather bag apparently hidden in the stones by an ancient looter.

The agglomeration was cleaned by a restorer and unique gold cast figures of leopards, griffins, as well as bracelets and other jewellery items were found. Among other findings were small sized nuggets and ingots made of gold of high purity, which were used by ancient goldsmiths for the manufacture of sheet gold.
The findings from the Patsha mound are believed to belong to the elites of early Saka society. Over 50 ancient burial sites are in the Yeleke Sazy area, though virtually all were looted in ancient times.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Mummy count continues to grow at Saqqara

The number of mummy-filled coffins found in a series of burial shafts at Saqqara in Egypt keeps growing. At the start of September, the team had found 13 coffins. By the beginning of October, that number had risen to 59, and now the number is over 100. Some are in a spectactular state of preservation. Archaeologists also found 20 wooden boxes showing depictions of Horus — an Egyptian sky god with a falcon head. Numerous shabti figurines were also found. Ancient Egyptians believed that shabtis acted as servants for the deceased in the afterlife.

The various finds date back between roughly 712 B.C. and 30 B.C.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

ICE returns 'Contorniato di Traiano' to Italy

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), returned two 9th century Italian manuscripts and a Roman coin, a Contorniato, during a repatriation ceremony at the Italian Embassy in Washington. A “Contorniato di Traiano,” was a reward given to soldiers or civilians during the rule of Trajan. (98-117 A.D.) A contorniate, or contourniate, is a type of ancient Roman medal or medallion made of bronze. The coin was stolen from the Oliveriano Museum in Pesaro in 1978. In April 2016, an auction house contacted the museum to report that a suspicious coin had recently been consigned by the executor of an estate. The auction house surrendered the coin to HSI Philadelphia in 2018.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Hermes dug up in Athens

The head of an ancient statue of the Greek god Hermes has been unearthed during excavations for sewage system improvements in central Athens. The artwork dates to the late 4th century BC or early 3rd century BC. The marble head was found 1.3 metres (four feet) under the pavement on the busy Aiolou street. Herms or Hermas are sculptures, usually of the head of Hermes, and sometimes a torso, which were set on a squared column erected at road crossings as signs.

According to Greek mythology, Hermes was the son of Zeus and the messenger of the gods, who also protected travellers and merchants.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Shimao - China's Pompeii

Villagers in the hills of China’s Loess Plateau believed that the crumbling rock walls near their homes were part of the Great Wall. Locals, and then looters, began finding pieces of jade in the rubble. Jade is not indigenous to this part of Shaanxi Province, the nearest source is almost a thousand miles away.

The rubble was not part of the Great Wall but the ruins of a magnificent fortress city. Carbon-dating determined that parts of Shimao date back 4,300 years, nearly 2,000 years before the oldest section of the Great Wall was built. The ongoing dig has revealed more than six miles of walls surrounding a 230-foot-high pyramid.
80 human skulls with no bodies were found, suggesting human sacrifice.Shimao flourished for nearly half a millennium, from around 2300 B.C. to 1800 B.C. It is the largest known Neolithic settlement in China with its 1,000-acre expanse. Fortified walls eight feet thick and six miles long ringed the city. Suddenly and for unknown reasons, it was abandoned.

Only a small fraction of Shimao has been excavated so far.

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Top ancients continue to do well

The latest Stacks Bowers sale returned high prices. A rare Caracalla aureus, A.D. 198-217. (7.43 gms), Rome Mint, A.D. 213. ANACS AU-50. Sold for $14,400, blowing past a $5,000-$7,500 estimate.

A Lucius Verus aureus, A.D. 161-169. Rome Mint, A.D. 164. ANACS AU-55. It made $12,000 against an estimate of $4,000-$6,000.

Friday, 6 November 2020

Greek island of Kythnos reveals secrets

Vryokastraki is a small rocky islet near the Greek island of Kythnos. It was once home to a significant city in the early Byzantine period. Artifacts have emerged from the island, which was continuously inhabited from the 12th century BC until the 7th century AD. One of the inscriptions describes a pirate named Glafketis who took control of Kythnos in the 4th century BC. According to the recently discovered artifact, Glafketis had support from the Macedonians, but was eventually forced out of power by the Athenians.
Another inscription describes ancient bureaucratic processes on the island, including building regulations and a list of fines to be collected from those breaking them. The stones bearing these inscriptions had all been used for building purposes during the Byzantine period, a common practice.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Nanhai No 1

A unique diamond and gold deposit has been located near the Arctic coast, about 155 kilometres southeast of Kugluktuk in Nunavut. The deposit bears "striking" similarities to the world's largest, most dominant source of gold, the Witwatersrand Goldfields in South Africa. Rocks are 2.85b years old. Conglomerate samples contained diamonds.

Your author was north for the construction of the Tahera Jericho Diamond Mine.
In April 2019 Silver Range collected a panel sample of the TRC that returned assay results of 36.3 (g/t) gold.
In 1997 geologist Valerie Jackson collected samples from the Tree River Conglomerate 3.1 km NW of Cracker Lake. Tree River Conglomerate is an Archean metasedimentary rock unit in the Anialik Greenstone Belt within the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut.

The known exposures of the TRC are on permits staked on Silver Range's (SNG.v) Tree River Property and on adjacent Inuit Owned Lands. Parcel CO-69.
The samples were processed to recover zircons and very unexpectedly yielded three diamonds. The discovery wasn't verified until recently.
TRC contains “abundant” pyrite and is anomalous for high-grade gold.
"Pearson remembers the precise moment about a year later, when the council's Cristiana Mircea, who visits Edmonton to teach Diamond Exploration Research Training School (DERTS) students about diamond indicator mineral identification, matter-of-factly told him the sample produced three diamonds.

"My jaw hit the floor," said Pearson. "Normally people would take hundreds of kilograms, if not tons of samples, to try and find that many diamonds. We managed to find diamonds in 15 kilos of rock that we sampled with a sledgehammer on a surface outcrop."